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Myanmar coup: ‘Everything will be OK’ teenage protester mourned

media captionHundreds attend funeral for teen killed in Myanmar protests

Crowds gathered in Mandalay on Thursday for the funeral of a 19-year-old woman who was shot dead during Myanmar’s anti-coup protests a day earlier.

Kyal Sin, known as Angel, was wearing a T-shirt with the phrase “Everything will be OK” when she died.

Tributes have flooded in on social media, with many calling her a “hero”.

Since the 1 February coup, Myanmar has been gripped by mass protests demanding an end to military rule and the release of detained elected leaders.

More than 54 people have been killed by security forces in the protests so far, according to the UN Human Rights Office, although other reports put the figure much higher. Wednesday was the bloodiest day since the coup, with 38 protesters killed in cities and towns across the country.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on security forces to “halt their vicious crackdown on peaceful protesters”.

Dozens of countries have now condemned the violence in Myanmar, though this has been largely ignored by the coup leaders.

image copyrightReuters

image captionAngel was shot dead on Wednesday while attending an anti-coup protest in Mandalay

On Thursday in Mandalay, people lined the route of Angel’s funeral procession.

Mourners sang revolutionary songs and chanted anti-coup slogans, Reuters news agency reports.

Images of the teenager wearing her “Everything will be OK” T-shirt at the protests had gone viral.

Aware of the dangers of taking part in the protests, she had written her blood type details on Facebook and requested that her organs be donated in the event of her death.

image copyrightReuters

image captionImages of Angel wearing a T-shirt with the slogan ‘Everything will be OK’ went viral online

Myat Thu, who was with her at the protest on Wednesday, said she had kicked open a water pipe so protesters could wash tear gas from their eyes. She had also tried to help him as police opened fire.

“She told me ‘Sit! Bullets will hit you’,” he told Reuters. “She cared for and protected others.”

He said police hit them with tear gas and then the bullets came.

Myat Thu said Angel, who had proudly voted in elections for the first time last year, was a “happy girl”.

“She loved her family and her family loved her so much too,” he said. “We are not in a war. There is no reason to use live bullets on people.”

People also paid tribute to Angel on social media. One friend wrote on Facebook: “My heart feels so my hurt.”

Another said: “Rest in peace my friend. We will fight this revolution to the end.”

Defiant protesters are united

In a video which showed Kyal Sin’s last minutes, she was seen leading a group of young protesters. When tear gas rained down and shooting came from security forces at the other end of the road, all of them looked worried but she shouted: “Are we united?”, and they chanted “United, United”. A family friend later said she was a truly inspirational leader.

Kyal Sin is one of several teenagers who gave up their lives on Wednesday. Gen Z, as they are called, believe their future must not be shaped by a military regime. But the same old army again committed atrocities even in urban areas where people film on their mobile phones.

One protester told me that he had never seen this kind of inhumane cruelty by police and soldiers who are shooting unarmed protesters with live ammunition, many of them in the head. But he insisted they would not be silenced and the military’s barbaric acts made him even more determined.

At Kyal Sin’s funeral, her aunt also vowed: “I feel sad but they must fall soon. Our fight must win.”

What is the latest on the protests?

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionProtesters demand the release of detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi

Undeterred by Wednesday’s deaths, protesters made their way out on to the streets of Yangon and Mandalay – the country’s two biggest cities – as well as those of other cities and towns.

According to news site Myanmar Now, tens of thousands of people were protesting in the town of Myingyan, where a demonstrator had been shot dead the day before.

Reuters news agency says police opened fire and used tear gas to break up protesters in Yangon and the town of Monywa.

Residents said that five fighter jets had made low passes in formation over Mandalay early on Thursday, in what appeared to be a show of military strength.

More than 1,700 people, including members of parliament and protesters, have been detained since the coup, Ms Bachelet said in a statement. Arrests have been escalating with 29 journalists detained in recent days, she said.

She warned the figures could be much higher due to the large scale of the protests and difficulty in monitoring developments.

What happened on Wednesday?

Police and soldiers reportedly opened fire with live rounds in several cities and towns with little warning.

“They didn’t spray us with water cannon, [there was] no warning to disperse, they just fired their guns,” one protester told Reuters.

media captionVideo footage shows anti-coup protesters running to avoid police tear gas

Another told the BBC that demonstrators were killed near her house.

“They didn’t give any warning… they just started to shoot. They used rubber bullets but also live bullets to kill civilians.”

UN envoy to Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, said one video clip showed police beating an unarmed volunteer medic.

Why are people protesting?

Myanmar’s military seized power after overthrowing the government of including Aung San Suu Kyi and declared a state of emergency.

Just days later, the civil disobedience movement began to emerge, with many people refusing to return to work.

The movement quickly started to gain momentum and it was not long before hundreds of thousands of people began taking part in street protests.

A violent crackdown began on the largely peaceful protests last weekend.

The military has not commented on the deaths.

Myanmar in profile

  • Myanmar, also known as Burma, became independent from Britain in 1948. For much of its modern history it has been under military rule
  • Restrictions began loosening from 2010 onwards, leading to free elections in 2015 and the installation of a government led by veteran opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi the following year
  • In 2017, Myanmar’s army responded to attacks on police by Rohingya militants with a deadly crackdown, driving more than half a million Rohingya Muslims across the border into Bangladesh in what the UN later called a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”

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